3332.091 Complaints.

(A)

(1) Any person adversely affected by the actions of a certificate holder may file a complaint with the state board of career colleges and schools alleging that any school registered with the board has violated any provision of section 3332.09 of the Revised Code. The complaint shall be in writing and signed by the complainant and shall be filed with the board within six months after the violations allegedly were committed. Upon receiving a complaint, the board shall initiate a preliminary investigation to determine whether it is probable that violations were committed. If the board determines after preliminary investigation that it is not probable that any violations were committed, it shall notify the person who filed the complaint that it has so determined and that it will not issue a formal complaint in the matter. If the board determines after a preliminary investigation that it is probable that violations were committed, it may issue a formal complaint under division (A)(2) of this section or it may endeavor to eliminate such practices by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion. Nothing said or done during these endeavors shall be disclosed by any member of the board or its staff or be used as evidence in any subsequent proceedings. If, after such investigation and conference, the board is satisfied that such violations will be eliminated, it may treat the complaint as conciliated, and entry of such disposition shall be made in the records of the board.

(2) If as a result of any informal methods utilized under division (A)(1) of this section, the board fails to effect the elimination of violations or fails to obtain voluntary compliance with this chapter, the board shall issue a formal complaint to the holder of a certificate of registration of the school under investigation. The formal complaint shall state the charges against the school and grant the certificate holder the opportunity to appear before the board at a public hearing pursuant to Chapter 119. of the Revised Code. The board shall hold the public hearing not sooner than thirty days after issuance of the formal complaint. Any formal complaint issued pursuant to this section must be issued within one year after the state board's receipt of a complaint from a person adversely affected by the actions of a certificate holder. If at the time of issuing a formal complaint, the board has reasonable cause to believe that the violations that are the subject of the complaint will continue and constitute an immediate threat to the welfare of current and prospective students, the board, for a period not to exceed the lesser of ninety days or the period of time until a final adjudication order dismissing the complaint or imposing a penalty is issued under this section, may:

(a) Issue an order prohibiting the school's agents from personally contacting students;

(b) Issue an order prohibiting the school from using any advertising, recruiting, or promotional materials unless such materials have been approved by the board. The board must approve or disapprove any materials submitted to it under such an order within thirty days of their receipt.

(c) Issue an order prohibiting the operation of a school. If, after a public hearing, the board determines that the holder of a certificate of registration has violated any provision of section 3332.09 of the Revised Code, the board shall issue a final adjudication order levying a civil penalty pursuant to division (B) of this section or limiting, suspending, or revoking the certificate of registration or program authorization or any combination thereof. The board may impose additional penalties including but not necessarily limited to curtailment of advertising, and discontinuation of enrollment of students in specific programs. Upon suspension or revocation, the board immediately shall also issue an order pursuant to Chapter 119. of the Revised Code requiring such person immediately to cease all sales, advertising, and enrollment activities.

(B) Pursuant to division (A) of this section, the board may impose a civil penalty of not less than one thousand nor more than three thousand five hundred dollars for each violation of section 3332.09 of the Revised Code, but not to exceed an aggregate penalty of thirty-five thousand dollars in any six-month period.

(C) The board shall prepare an annual report that documents the disposition of all complaints, their status, board action, and the elapsed time from the initial filing of the complaint until final resolution. The report shall be made available to anyone upon request.

(D) The board may, upon its own initiative and independent of the filing of any complaints, conduct a preliminary investigation relating to any possible violations of section 3332.09 of the Revised Code. At any time while a school is in session, the board or its designee may conduct on-site inspections and reviews of a school and its courses of instruction. The board shall conduct such visits and reviews, including visits without prior notice to the schools, as necessary to ensure compliance with this chapter. All books, records, and files of a school shall be open for inspection by the board, its designees, or staff during on-site inspections, or whenever requested by the board for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the provisions of this chapter. For the purpose of conducting any investigation, inspection, or review, the board may administer oaths, take the testimony of any person under oath, issue subpoenas, compel the attendance of witnesses, or require the production for examination of any books and papers relating to any matter under investigation or in question before the board.

(E) During the course of any investigation under division (A) or (D) of this section, the board shall refer all possible violations of Chapter 1345. of the Revised Code to the attorney general.

Effective Date: 04-03-2003